When I first entered the grad school process I thought I would have decided eons before April 15th. I thought I knew exactly where I wanted to go, why, and had even started scoping out potential places to live. That was October.
I still haven't decided but, I think it's time for my biggest lessons learned list..
Don't get your heart set on one place - or try not to!
When I first started this process I only saw myself at South Carolina. Then when I was rejected there, I moved onto my favorite being in the UK. Now, my favorite is wherever they give me money.
Remember everyone gets rejections
My first rejection I didn't take too hard. It was my second. My entire family was shocked. My advisor, however, reminded me that he got rejections when he applied for his PhD. And he turned out fine. In fact, he turned out brilliantly and exactly where I think he is meant to be. Rejections are not the end of the world. And while the first month or so after being rejected from South Carolina I couldn't figure out why, I came to a realization. It was for the best. It wasn't because I wasn't good enough. It was because it was suppose to happen.
Karma doesn't exist; Fate does
I said that I would get rejected from one program because of a letter of recommendation and how I didn't quite listen to one professor when she suggested how to reform a paper that she would base her letter of recommendation on. Well, I got accepted to that program. I'm not a religious person so I call it fate. If you want to call it divine intervention, then by all means, go for it. But I think there was some sort of plan that said "What's meant to happen will."
Take up a hobby - throw yourself into work
In the tense month of February when we were all waiting for answers, I was like a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. But I took up cross-stitching again to relax me. I took long walks on the beach (no joke!). I baked. And I threw myself into my senior thesis that's due at the end of April. The busier I was, the less time I had to freak out. And the more I worked on academic things, the more my mind cleared about what was coming ahead.
My final lesson learns comes from a quote from Harry Potter, said by Hagrid. "What's coming is coming, and we'll meet it when it does."
I realize it's been some time since my last post, but there really wasn't anything exciting to write about until recently.
So now I'm in that never-ending waiting period. Every day I find myself staring at my phone, demanding the email notification light to start blinking. And then it does, and I think, "wow, it really worked!". Until I read the email, which has nothing to do with my applications, and 9 times out of 10 is something I couldn't care less about. So then I sit at my desk annoyed at that email, and start the email-light demanding cycle over again. It's usually then that I make myself do something productive which works for a good 5-10 minutes until I find myself staring at my phone again. Apparently, I have developed the attention span of a goldfish.
Of course, every so often I do hear something positive. Now, you would think that hearing something would help squelch the anxiety I feel towards my other programs, right? Oh no, actually it makes it worse! It's almost like some twisted gambler's fallacy, if one school tells me something, well then the others have to as well! So if I hear something from School A on Monday, well then Schools B-H will definitely tell me something Tuesday. And if not Tuesday, then Wednesday, and so forth. And yes, I realize the lack of logic there, and I've tried to tell myself that. But have you ever had an argument with yourself? Mine never end well. In fact, they usually end with me staring at my phone...
So at this point, I've had one in-person interview (School A), one phone interview (School B.) and I'm officially waitlisted at another school (School C). So that's 3 out of 8 programs, with no word from the rest. I think I might be waitlisted at School D, but I'm not sure yet. From what I've been told from the schools I have heard from, if there is anything positive coming my way I should hear back from School B in the next few days (for an in-person interview invite) and School A should be making admissions decisions early next week. From my experience, School C has a long waitlist so it's hard to say where I stand there if they even get to the waitlist (they didn't last year). So for now my hope is on Schools A & B. I thought that knowing when I would hear back would be helpful, but I don't know if it is. I mean I guess it is in a way since I know when to expect it, but at the same time I feel like a little kid waiting for Santa to come. Except that I don't know if I'm getting a present, or if Santa will give me a lump of coal sometime later. I know it's only 1 more week. I already waited 1.5 weeks for School A (plus 6 weeks), I can wait another week. At least that is what I keep telling myself.
I also made a decision that if I got an interview I would only tell a select group of people (less than 5 total). I thought that would help because then I wouldn't have a lot of people asking details about the interview...which just leads to questions about all the other programs to which I applied. Also, then you don't have 20 people giving you advice about the interview. Don't get me wrong, I'm far from perfect, and I am more than willing to ask others for advice. However, I like to do it on my own terms, and ask the people I trust, and know how graduate school interviews work. Hearing about how interviews work at your place of employment probably will not help me at X University. I've done a good job keeping this all quiet, but it is much harder than I thought it would be! After my phone interview yesterday all I wanted to do was tell someone...anyone...fine, everyone how it went. Once I get in somewhere I'll probably share interview details (if there are any at that point) with anyone who asks, I'm just hoping that day comes soon.